Dirt In Your Teeth

Growing up on the farm, I can remember times where I was keenly aware of the wind direction. Not because I was spraying and concerned about drift, but because of the direction the dust would blow. Driving an open air John Deere 5020 tractor usually meant that in one direction, the wind blew fresh air in my face, and in the opposite direction I was consuming a black cloud of dust (generated by the cultivator). When tractors arrived with cabs, it felt absolutely luxurious. No more dust to eat or worse yet, barley dust down the neck of your shirt. It wasn’t perfect, but I knew what to expect no matter which way the wind was blowing.

Now when I visit the farm, the equipment is so advanced that I need tech support from my family just to pull a chisel plow. Setting the correct angle on the auto-steer system takes several inputs on the touchscreen display before I am ready to go. Eventually, I can get the air-adjust seat raised to my desired height and the temperature set perfectly for my liking. As I work my way back and forth across the field – only touching the steering wheel and hydraulic switches when it is time to turn around – I have time to make phone calls or pass time on my smartphone.

The changes in technology are remarkable, and I can only imagine how things will be 10-20 years from now. Efforts are already underway to develop Grand Farm, an autonomous farm near Fargo, North Dakota. Like many other industries, I believe that autonomous systems and artificial intelligence will become important parts of the future farm. Stories shared of spending all day in an auto-steer-capable tractor will be the equivalent of the “I walked to school uphill both ways” tales that we joke about today.

With change comes uncertainty, fear and sometimes resistance – especially when those affected are not convinced that it is for the better. My experience has been that change is inevitable, and keeping an open mind and being willing to listen opens the door to opportunities that come with change. Resist it, and we miss out as the proverbial ship sails away. Or in this case, as the driverless tractor pulls away.

Technological advancement is impacting and improving the agriculture industry. It’s also creating challenges for our clients in the industries that market their products and services to farmers and dealer networks. How do they reach their target audience today and get the most for their marketing investment? First, it’s critical to determine who their primary target audience is.

Is it the young farmer who typically finds his/her information online and through social media? Or is it the retiring farmer (Do farmers really retire? My dad hasn’t yet.) who also enjoys reading the local or regional newspaper, as well as agriculture-related publications? Perhaps it is that group of farmers who exist in-between these two target audiences. All three of these groups are likely important, and each of them requires a unique strategy to attract.

Anyone can sell advertising that claims to reach the right people, but without a plan, advertisers are often left to wonder if it was worth it. It’s kind of like those open air tractors: depending on the direction of the wind, sometimes you get fresh air and sometimes you get a face full of dirt. If you ever feel that way, it’s time to surround your brand with a strategic marketing plan. That way, you can do what you do best and feel confident that your marketing investment is money well spent, no matter which direction the wind decides to blow. If planning, measurements and results sound good for your brand, give us a call.